There is no denying the impact lighting has on humans. In fact, our daily exposure to light, especially the time of day we are exposed to certain wavelengths, plays a monumental role in a good night’s sleep. As any doctor will tell you, not getting enough sleep can quickly lead to health issues, as well as an overall loss of cognitive function. When people become cranky from lack of sleep, it is because the effects of sleep deprivation are an unpleasant experience for the human body in a myriad of ways. With the growing understanding of how light affects us, more and more solutions are being put in place to encourage a healthy sleeping cycle. Let’s take a closer look at the relationship between circadian lighting and health.
What is the circadian rhythm?
The circadian rhythm is a basically an internal clock that tells the body when to sleep and when to wake. This rhythm is affected by light because certain levels and types of lighting simulate daytime which is when the rhythm keeps you alert whereas other light tones indicate to the body it is time for rest. This internal rhythm is essential to the sleep cycle occurring in a natural, healthy manner.
What are the health consequences of sleep deprivation and/or poor sleep quality?
When the circadian rhythm is thrown off balance, sleep deprivation can set in. Not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep every night can lead to a host of issues. In fact, according to Science Daily, “A new study has found that chronic disruption of one of the most basic circadian (daily) rhythms -- the day/night cycle -- leads to weight gain, impulsivity, slower thinking, and other physiological and behavioral changes in mice, similar to those observed in people who experience shift work or jet lag.” There is no denying the role sleep plays in the functions of the human brain. Studies have also indicated that poor sleep quality can lead to these same issues. Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep also result in higher levels of stress hormones being present in the body, as well as an overall feeling of unhappiness or discontent.
What is circadian lighting?
While you may know that sleep is imperative for good mental function, the matter of how light plays into the scenario is still worth answering. When the eyes receive certain wavelength and color temperatures, it sends signals to the brain regarding the circadian rhythm. With blue wavelengths of light, the awake and alertness levels of the brain are signaled which is fine during the day, but if humans are being exposed to these wavelengths prior to the time when they should be entering the resting phase, it can result in the disruption of the circadian rhythm. In essence, circadian lighting is lighting planned with this factor in mind. While you could simply plan the lighting to use only warmer tones of light or incandescent bulbs, this could be an issue depending on where the light is located. For instance, alertness signified by lighting is important for the function of the human brain throughout the day. In areas such as an office, you want these blue wavelengths, but many researchers and manufacturers are finding the absence of blue wavelengths is beneficial in the living room and bedroom to help signal to the brain time for rest. New technology is being introduced in LED lighting solutions to remove the blue wavelengths to allow for LED fans to still use their favorite type of lamp in these areas of the home. However, an incandescent bulb will also achieve the same effect.
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